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The fall of American Afghanistan and its lessons for Ukraine

The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan is significant in a few senses, which are important to understand in Ukraine.

by YURI ROMANENKO

The Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan is significant in several senses, which are important to understand in Ukraine. If, after all, we want to build a successful state.

First. The Taliban have relied on their own organization, rather than trusting in outside aid. This organization rested on a faith shared by the majority of the Afghan population. Whether someone likes it or not, the population of Afghanistan for the most part shares the values ​​of the Taliban. It was the high motivational component, laid on an organization that was ready to do anything for the sake of its goals, despite the losses and the huge material superiority of its opponents, that led the Taliban to a resounding victory 20 years later after a quick defeat in 2001.

Second. The Taliban learned from their quick defeat in 2001 and realized that it is important to understand the external context and be understandable to outside actors. Therefore, over the past years, they have held negotiations with all key players that had interests in Afghanistan and the region. It is extremely naive to think that authority fell to the Taliban just like that. They not only fought for 20 years with the Americans and their henchmen in Afghanistan, but they were preparing the international basis for their victory. In Ukraine, many consider the Taliban barbarians, but in their assessment of the international situation and building the necessary relations with key players, they look much more adequate than the current government in Ukraine and its “supporters”. In fact, they were able to build relations with the United States, and with China, and with Russia, and with lower-level players and were able to convince them of their negotiability.

Third. The collapse during the month of the pro-American Afghan state led by Ashraf Ghani, which was left without US military support, perfectly illustrates the simple idea that the United States (and any other player of this level) will not pull the strap for you and will merge, if there are circumstances. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans who have worked with Western governments are now in grave danger. However, such tragedies have already been seen in Saigon, when the United States left southern Vietnam or recently in Iraq. The USSR did the same with the regime of Mohammad Najibullah. For Ukraine, this is an ominous sign of a possible near future, if we continue to open our mouths to hope that the West will resolve everything. You need to bet on your army, navy, economy and brains. Then you can resist and develop. And colonialism in any form will not lead us to prosperity.

Fourth. There is another very important moment in this dark history with Afghanistan, which is very indicative for Ukraine, although it is unlikely to convince our infantiles of anything. Afghanistan has the status of the main US ally outside NATO. Since 2012. In 1996, major US allies outside NATO gained additional military and financial benefits when Section 2321k (also known as Section 517 of the US Foreign Aid Act: its first draft went into effect yet in 1961) was added to paragraph 22 (foreign economic relations); besides it, they were exempted from the restrictions imposed by the Arms Export Control Act. The President of the United States can now designate a state as a major ally within 30 days of notification from Congress. In short, Ukraine has been seeking this status since 2014, but has not yet received it. In our country, many hope that if Ukraine receives such a status, then the United States will fit in and will save us from Putin, not sparing its belly. However, the tragedy of Afghanistan shows that if an ally is not ready to fight for himself, then the Americans will not take a lot of steam. Another and opposite example is Israel. Israel is extremely persistent in defending its interests and the United States is providing it with significant support.

Fifth. Joe Biden’s accusations of almost leaking American interests are by definition ridiculous for the simple reason that American interests have changed. Therefore, Biden follows the same logic as Donald Trump – he optimizes the costs of foreign policy for the United States. Populism has nothing to do with it. The US simply can no longer bear this imperial burden. Like Britain before them. As before Britain, the Netherlands. As before the Netherlands Spain. Like Russia in 1917 and 1991. Like the Ottoman Empire in 1918. Sooner or later, any empire reaches its limits and begins to crumble. Or to reformat. The United States is on this stage today. Because the name of the President of the United States is generally relative here. He cannot go beyond the corridor of objective possibilities. Many fools in Kyiv do not understand this. Therefore, they continue to demand from the United States what they could give in the 90s of the last century, but can no longer give now. The collapse of American policy in Afghanistan is another evidence to this. It reflects the process of radical restructuring of the world, which is only gaining momentum. And Ukraine needs to realize that the orientation of the world order of the 1945 model is already simply dangerous. Because it crumbles more and more every year.

Sixth. However, right now, in front of our eyes, a new “Crimean bridge” is being born. Remember when we yelled that the Crimean post would not be built? Our infantiles, in the light of the Taliban seizure of Afghanistan, are pushing the idea that the Americans, having pumped 1-2 trillion dollars down the drain to build democracy in Afghanistan, are now making a clever move and leaving there in order to throw all the problems onto China and Russia. Which now, they say, will inherit serious costs previously covered by the Americans. And the Taliban will rush to Central Asia and this will create such pressure that Russia will get bogged down head over heels in a new war in Central Asia.

To begin with, China is not going to build any democracy in Afghanistan. China needs cobalt, copper, tin, gold and other resources of Afghanistan. Plus guarantees that the Taliban will not help the Uighurs. In recent months, the Chinese Foreign Minister has not climbed out of Central Asia. And all indications are that China has a deal with the Taliban. Beijing has already announced that it is ready to invest billions of dollars in mining. And in exchange, it is probably ready to build infrastructure. Will it benefit the Taliban? Sure. They need to stabilize the economic system. China is a chance. Moreover, the Western countries have already announced that they are stopping financial support for Afghanistan. In addition, Pakistan (through which a lot of goods go to Afghanistan) is also dependent on China. Pakistan, of course, is not a puppet of China, as many people in Ukraine think. However, it does have a really serious partnership with Beijing, which is exacerbated by the contradictions between China and India. By the way, China looks at Afghanistan in the logic of this confrontation. Therefore, it makes no sense for the Taliban to get involved in a conflict with the PRC. It can be predicted that China and Pakistan will be among the first to recognize the Taliban regime.

This means that China is gaining additional leverage over the countries of Central Asia. Because the destabilization of the region will harm China’s interests in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. China has invested enough money there to be concerned about the safety of the investment.

Second, the threat of invasion (and the Taliban have so far done everything to remove these fears from the Central Asian countries) will automatically force the countries of the region to lean against Russia or China. Or both. Thus, the threat from the Taliban opens up opportunities for Russia to strengthen its position in the region, not weaken it. And it creates additional reasons for coordinating policy with China. Or with the West about preventing the strengthening of China in Central Asia. At the same time, Russia is well aware of the consequences of the penetration of Islamists into the Central Asian countries, therefore it has already stepped up its efforts in the region. And the secular elites of the Central Asian countries are well aware that if the Islamists penetrate beyond the limits of the Soviet border, they are in danger of repeating the Afghan scenario. The only alternative can be one or another form of Islamization, which will be led by the elites themselves.

Obviously, a new round of struggle begins for Central Asia, in which not only Russia and China will participate, but also Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan, Great Britain (which operates through the Turks and other players), but we can say for sure that Ukraine’s hopes that this struggle can weaken Russia so much that it will forget about Ukraine will not be justified. Whatever happens in Central Asia, Russia will definitely not forget about Ukraine, you cannot even doubt it.

Resume: The sad story of pro-American Afghanistan does not mean that Ukraine should break up with the United States and run with its tail up to Russia or China. No. It’s just that Ukraine will have to begin to conduct an adult domestic and foreign policy, which should be based on a few simple truths. Here they are:

You are what you control.

You will have what you are willing to pay for. If you have nothing to pay with, then you will not have anything.

Your addictions define your limits. Successful public policies are those that reduce dependencies and increase opportunities. This is one of its basic criteria.

You must first of all do what depends on you in order to achieve the goals that are important to you. Expectations of goodwill from others in world history have most often ended in great disappointment.

Reliance on one’s own people is more important than external support, because it is necessary to do so that it would be beneficial for the people to support the government.

External support will be successful if it is based on shared interests with partners. Failure to understand common interests will lead to the loss of external support. No one will try to understand your interests more than you are ready to understand others.

These are simple truths, but all the Ukrainian authorities stubbornly ignored them for 30 years. It’s time to come to your senses. It’s not too late.

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